Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 3 - Thrusday, January 20

It snowed in the night before this day, which wasn’t a problem around The City, but around here there’s a lot of roads and not a lot of budget for snow removal. This means the highway exit I take to go to Midwest High turns into a death trap if there’s any significant amount of snow.

The today I spent the two prep periods having a long conversation with Mr. CT about his experience living and working in a rural area. It was really interesting to hear about his and his wife’s efforts to get a country house where his farmgirl wife could raise animals of her own.

I also made a key for the homework that was to be made into a transparency, and we talked about some unevenness in the assignment and we talked about the use of multiple choice format to ask substantial questions. We had some last minute moments of fixing calculators for use in a lab later.

Midwest High has a single secretary through which a lot of the business of the school must go. She, in response, carries an intensity around her that is a little terrifying. Mr. CT let on that some of this is an act, deliberately cultured as a way to exert control over her situation. As a result, any request a teacher makes of her will receive a completely unpredictable response; she might make it out like you asked her to sail the Pacific in a bathtub, or she might grant the request immediately with no fuss. Often times she displays both responses to the same request in the same day. We can call her Queen Secretary to reflect her place in the school. I mention her because we had to seek her audience to see if we could:

1. Get transparencies

2. Get my ID and parking pass so that I can be in the school legitimately

We ended up getting both the transparencies with a minimum of fuss, but it could easily have gone the other way. EDIT: I just looked over my notes, and I don't get my ID and parking pass until the next day.

AP Chemistry was talking about molecular geometries, first with the deviations from ideal bond angles due to the presence of lone pairs and then into classifying the geometries of expanded octet molecules. I’ve always liked the visual aspect of this part of chemistry, when you have to start thinking about the shape of things on the molecular level and how that creates the observable behavior of the material. I can understand the frustration that sometimes crops up, since the nerdy types that go for AP Chem tend to be more symbol-types than picture-types.

We decided that I would go over some homework for the whole class in Chem 1 before we did the lab for that day. I did some setup for the lab during lunch period. The devices we were using at first appeared not to work, but they were fixed by just being very slow at each stage of boot up. I don’t understand how TI gets away with charging as much as they do for essentially the same calculators that they offered when I was in high school.

The going over of the homework was nice for me, as I got to call on people and start to learn their names. I also got to work on my skills with a projector, that old workhorse of education. I most likely went far slower than the classes would prefer, which sucks but I’ll get better. The second half of each class was spent in the lab with gas pressure sensors and syringes; I took the role of lab TA. No one had any problem with the data collection aspect of the lab, but when it came time to do something with the data a lot of students seem to go off the rails. I was surprised by the number of students that were confused by filling a data column with a label of 1/V when they already had a column of data they took that was labeled V. I think it was Martha who interpreted the 1 as a lowercase L, which I kind of understand.

Graphing data is problematic, with inconsistent axes and playing connect-the-dots with the data points running rampant. Oftentimes different oddities would be displayed by different members of the same lab groups, which was quite odd with all the talking about what should be on the lab handouts that I heard.

Chem 2 was more orientation style stuff, making sure everyone knows what is necessary to do well in the course. I may have remarked on this before, but I’m not sure I’ll have that much to talk about with Chem 2 for the rest of my time. It’s not even like Mr. CT is protective of it or something, it’s that the entire curriculum is already made and given to us to go through. There isn’t much room for even Mr. CT to make more than minor changes to reflect the fact that the class isn’t being taught at a community college with a college-style laboratory to work in. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to take his place or whether that would invalidate whatever contract resulted in the dual-credit nature of the class.

Last side note to end the entry: I find bold colors work really well on me, so while all the other teachers are kind of drab, preferring sweaters and khakis and the like, this day I was wearing a teal button-down shirt with black dress pants. I got two compliments on the shirt, from Flora and Annette.

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